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JULY 24, 2012

McLaren says both drivers still in championship fight

Depite Lewis Hamilton currently lying fifth in the world championship classification, 62 points behind leader Fernando Alonso, and Jenson Button seventh, 86 points adrift, team principal Martin Whitmarsh believed that both his drivers are still in the hunt after the team's strong performance in Germany.

Hamilton's German GP was ruined when he ran over debris in the early stages and sustained a puncture, which ultimately led to him being retired from the race.

"When you run a full lap with a flailing tyre you put stresses into the gearbox that it's not designed to take," Whitmarsh explained, "so where Lewis was and with little prospect of a safety car or any points, we decided not to take any more risk."

Before he retired, however, Hamilton had shown that the McLaren had race-winning pace when he unlapped himself drom Sebastian Vettel's second-placed Red Bull and hounded Fernando Alonso's leading Ferrari. And Jenson Button underlined that when he was able to close down the leaders after spending the early part of the race in traffic.

"Fernando and Ferrari are doing a great job and will be diffiuclt to beat, but it's doable," Whitmarsh claimed. "I think there's going to be some great races.

"If you put someone like Fernando at the front of a race you are going to have difficulty catching and passing him. We caught him but we couldn't get past him.

"Coming out of Melbourne you'd have said that we were on a roll and Ferrari was in trouble but they've done a great job and you've got to congratulate them. But we're on the pace now and you might see the same kind of turnaround. Both our drivers are still capable of winning this year's world championship."